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An Unkindness of Magicians

(An Unkindness of Magicians #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  8,342 ratings  ·  1,586 reviews
There is a dark secret that is hiding at the heart of New York City and diminishing the city’s magicians’ power in this fantasy thriller by acclaimed author Kat Howard.

In New York City, magic controls everything. But the power of magic is fading. No one knows what is happening, except for Sydney—a new, rare magician with incredible power that has been unmatched in decades,
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published September 26th 2017 by Gallery / Saga Press
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Andrew Tobin There is, but it is not really a focus of the story, it's more for adding complication and character.…moreThere is, but it is not really a focus of the story, it's more for adding complication and character.(less)
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Andrew Tobin
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Average rating 3.74  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,342 ratings  ·  1,586 reviews

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Merphy Napier
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, fantasy, five-stars
Upon Reread: 4.5

I filmed my Wrap Up two days ago (going up today) and in it I said it's still 5 stars, but I really think 4.5 is best because there a some very real complaints, but I still love it so much.
I was nervous that I wouldn't love it as much when I reread it but this book is just fantastic. And that ending gets me every time <3


The intricacies of this magic and these characters are phenomenal! This is a world you can get lost in and
Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Actual Rating: 2.5/5

This book was…. not great. The writing was actually very good, but the story suffered from an excessive amount of characters and perspectives. The world building was jumbled and there was way too much going on for the length of the book. The book kept building up to epic battles that got solved in a matter of sentences and major plot points were revealed too early. The pacing was all off and it’s a shame because the writing style and premise had so much promise. To quote anot
¸¸.•*¨*•♫ Mrs. Buttercup •*¨*•♫♪

I don't even know where to begin. Okay. Phew.
So, this book is perfect. And I don't mean like "this is a modern classic o m g literally Shakespeare reborn" perfect. I mean this book was one hell of a ride perfect. Yeeeeee-ah!!! So. Much. Fun!!!

If I had to describe this book in a few words, I would describe it as "Harry Potter for adults". There is a bunch of Houses of magic people who are filthy rich and bored and challenge each other with mortal magic duels. They don'
As I was reading this, I was caught by just how bleak and depressing the world of magic is. It carried over to me almost immediately and I wondered if I was falling into a black spell.

But no, I think it was mostly just the world of this imagination.

When we're talking about the unkindness of magicians, it's a real dog-eat-dog life with some of the evilest requirements to keep the magic flowing I've seen, brought home even more because it's our modern world. The ending wasn't as bleak as most of
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
(2.5 stars, rounded down because of sheer disappointment on my part.) This is by no means a bad book, but it would have been a better film. Kat Howard writes visually arresting scenes that would lend themselves beautifully to cinema. See the opening scene, for example, in which a beautiful young woman steps out into NYC traffic, levitates all the passing vehicles, and conducts them in the air with precision and grace. Unfortunately, as a book, An Unkindness of Magicians suffers from an overabund ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those times where buying a book based purely off of the stunning cover and the wonderful-sounding blurb really paid off. I hadn't really heard much about this author, and I didn't get recommended her by anyone else, I just decided that this was a book I needed to pick up based on the cover alone. I am so very, very glad that this does have such a great cover, because it turned out to be a really fantastic book too, and I wouldn't have been drawn to it if it were not for the cover ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

A solid 3.5 star read. Kat Howard enchanted me with her debut Roses and Rot last year, so I was excited to check out An Unkindness of Magicians, her sophomore novel about a hidden world of magic and power. In this “Unseen World”, members of elite magical houses come together every few years to duke it out in a tournament called the Turning, with each family represented by their chosen champion. Ostensibly held to place e
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
This is a very solid and enjoyable modern magician story. I liked the focus on a single event in the Unseen World - the Turning - where magicians battle each other for supremacy and the right to lead the magical world. I loved Laurent, although he seemed pretty naive at times, particularly as the sole black man and an Outsider to the Unseen World.

I enjoyed Howard's writing, although I felt the pacing was a tiny bit off towards the end, where things happened so quickly I almost missed them. That
Jul 23, 2019 marked it as zzz-books-not-for-me  ·  review of another edition
Not for me, left me feeling depressed. Too dark, too many characters who feel either miserable, hateful or desperate. Couldn't find one likeable character, couldn't care less if all of them died.

Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
this was FABULOUS.
This is basically like the setup for a Hunger Games with magicians, but much for sophisticated. It takes place in the city and we get to see all the dark corners that hide the magic away and how that magic has it's own world and rules.
This isn't as action packed as I wish it could have been (my only flaw with it); it could have set it up to have some seriously epic battle scenes, though I can understand how this wouldn't fit the main audience. We get mentions of each persons'
3.5 stars. While I enjoyed this title, I did find myself a little confused at times during portions of dialogue; I found myself rereading snippets of dialogue since I wasn't always sure who had said what. There was also some slightly odd editing that necessitated rereading preceding paragraphs so I could clarify the action. I also felt that the resolution for the baddies was a little too neatly handled. That said, I liked the magic system and its costs, and its implementation (e.g., Laurent's co ...more
Renee Godding
Mar 19, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of The Darkest Minds - Alexandra Bracken

“Magic, at its heart, starts with sacrifice. You have to give up something to get something, and because magic is big, with all that it allows you access to, what you give up has to be big. It has to be meaningful.”

When I first saw this book in my library, I was ecstatic. Urban fantasy, gorgeous cover and a plot that gave me vibes of the Tri-wizard tournament from Harry Potter on steroids: something I didn’t know I wanted, but now that I had it in my hands I couldn’t wait.
Although it wasn’t quit
There is upheaval in the Unseen World, the secret community of magicians in New York, because the latest magical competition to determine the leading magician House has come at a time when magic itself is becoming unreliable. A powerful magician, Sydney, has appeared out of the House of Shadows, only the second person to ever emerge from that place. She's participating in the magic competition, the Turning, and representing an outsider trying to establish his own House. Meanwhile House Prospero ...more
Maja Ingrid
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
4,5 stars

(but can I give the book +10 stars for the cover alone because it is gorgeous and also it's textured which gives it a 3D effect and I'm madly in love with it)

Wonderful plot that was a little bit twisted and little bit dark and writing so beautiful. Sometimes it felt like it was written directly onto my soul. However, as I mentioned in one of my updates (as well as in reviews for other books) I'm not fond of POV changes within a chapter. And this book does lot of it. But that's not the r
Oct 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kat Howard wrote one of my favourite books of all time with Roses and Rot, though more for how much it resonated - and so I'm relieved that I enjoyed this so much with that aspect removed. Despite the odd rough patch here and there, I really, really enjoyed this book.

The world of magic in this book might ring familiar to anyone who's heard of Omelas - all magic in this world has consequences, though a way to outsource those consequences has been found. But magic itself is seeming to fade, and n
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An Unkindness of Magicians is a smart page-turner of an urban fantasy novel, and it works as a standalone! Set in New York City, the magical world is entering a period of upheaval as mage houses battle for political control. Dark secrets come to light and many players have their own agenda. Full of intrigue with a twisty plot and interesting characters, this fast-paced novel completely sucked me in.

Underlying themes include racism, oppression, and abuse of power, seamlessly woven into this thri
Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
↠ 3.5 stars

Okay, so first of all I have to admit this one was a total cover buy for me, and I don't regret it, exactly, though it does remind me of the fact that every single time I choose a book solely on cover I end up a smidgen disappointed in some way. This book was good, but it could have been so much better.

An Unkindess of Magicians is set in modern-day New York, where magic thrives in the hidden Unseen World populated by magicians who mostly belong to Houses. Sound familiar? It's a bit l
Tilly Booth
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I shamelessly picked up this book for the cover...Come on, if you know me, i'm all about those aesthetic books. By the way, it has raised grooves. Who can say no to raised grooves?!

Luckily, this book was actually really, really good! I didn't go into this book with many expectation and I was super surprised by the plot of this story. I absolutely loved the concept of this book, set in the real world where a society of magicians who run their own households live amongst us. Every few decades, th
Nov 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2019
buddy read with Hannah

I’m not sure how to rate this. On one hand I liked it, but on the other it lacked some important stuff like character depth and graceful storytelling.

The writing is one of the things I liked the most, it had that something that works for me, and it would’ve been magnificent if it wasn’t told in a choppy way—we are following the characters only in those moments that seem/are important and it’s not neatly sewn together; it looks more like an extra colorful quilt than
Book Riot Community
Magic + New York City + Kat Howard = HEART EYES. Something is happening to the magic in NYC. No one understands it, except Sydney, a young magician with more power than has been seen in the city in decades. But Sydney doesn’t want to restore the city’s power – she wants to destroy it. This is a fun dark fantasy with a strong protagonist and lots of imagination.

Backlist bump: A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky

Tune in to our weekly podcast dedicated to all things new books, All The Books: http://b
~~ preeti~~
Genre- Standalone Urban Fantasy/fantasy thriller.

This book is an excellent example of a
'Harry Potter book for the adult audience.  🤭🤭 
So we have an unseen magic world hiding within the heart of New York. This magic world is divided into different houses and every few years the wheel of fortune is turned called the 'The turning'
In this 'turning', these houses appoint their warriors/ magicians/wizards who fight each other and the winner's house gets political control till the next 'turning'.

We h
Patricija - aparecium_libri
First of my owls challenge is completed.
I am pleasantly surprised.
A fast, plot based, not too long book about magicians and rivalry.
I love Sydney as a character so much I'd put my hand in the fire for her. Totally reading the second book.
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is such a unique dark little story. Howard somehow managed to craft a strange hybrid a between character driven and a plot driven story. It definitely reads like it’s plot driven but about characters if that makes sense. The entire story revolves around a cast of characters but I never really developed attachments to them or saw character growth, they just existed and did things to move the story forward. I’m confusing myself too...I know.

This is also a story that demands to be reread. You
4 stars - It was great. I loved it.

While it’s her sophmoric novel, this book had the feel of a debut novel in that the characters were not as deeply developed as I would have liked and certain plot events felt too rushed. But, it was an engaging, fun read with a storyline that would be perfect for a movie or TV series. I enjoyed the time I spent in the world the author created and look forward to reading works from her in the future.
Favorite Quote: Not
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Clever ideas, slightly messy execution.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kinda like if gossip girl and a more mature harry potter world collided haha. Solid plotting and ok world building but I found the characters a little bland.
Monica (crazy_4_books)
If you're familiar with the cruel and rich characters of the movie Cruel Intentions, the you get the reference. Merphy Napier on her channel does a much better analysis of this book that I could do. I'm not as qualified as her to do it justice mainly because I'm new in the fantasy genre.
As far as my knowledge goes, this book is a low-urban fantasy mystery/thriller set in New York in the present time.
I've read complaints about trigger warnings for abuse a
Cori Reed
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well that was a pleasant surprise! This book is awesome.
Karen ⊰✿
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sydney appears in the Unseen world with magic that is beguiling and terrifying. Everyone wants to know who she is and where she came from... Magicians are born into Houses in the Unseen world and rarely appear from the ranks of the mundane.
She has arrived to compete in "The Turning" ; which is an ever increasing set of magical battles designed to determine who will rule the Unseen world and happens - usually - every 20-ish years. It has only been 13.
This is such a great set up for a story and th
Bookish Pengu
Blasted through this audio book expecting some great fantasy and only got mediocre.

The world building was non-existent and even questioned by one of the characters. The person asked just replied with "Eh we live here. I don't care about other places, why should they matter?"

There were so many Point of views it was very hard to keep track especially in the audio book altough I really liked the narrator though!

The magic system was just like: She said a word which sounded like breaking glass and h
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Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year's best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Roses and Rot is her debut novel. You can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword.

Also, Shane Leonard took her photo, and she's super grateful.

Other books in the series

An Unkindness of Magicians (2 books)
  • A Sleight of Shadows (An Unkindness of Magicians, #2)

Articles featuring this book

If you love the fantasy genre, this is the season for you! Some of the biggest books out this fall promise to be epics full of magic, adventure,...
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“Magic, at its heart, starts with sacrifice. You have to give up something to get something, and because magic is big, with all that it allows you access to, what you give up has to be big. It has to be meaningful.” 10 likes
“I am perfectly capable of causing my own share of trouble.” 4 likes
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